Friday, December 21, 2012

In Case the Mayans Were Right

It's the morning of December 21st and the world is still here.  I've also heard from friends living from the other side of the world that though it's already the end of the 21st for them, they've so far not yet been annihilated either.

If the world were to end today, as some speculate based on the Mayan calendar that ends on 12/21/2012, then as far as I'm concerned, there's really just one last thing to blog about.  That is, to deal with the question of 'What else is there to say?'

Now this is tricky because there is a chance, a huge one in fact, that the world will continue beyond this day.  If so, then I still need to be careful about what I say since words always have consequences and I don't want to have to deal with painful consequences just as we all exhale on the 22nd.

So here's my 'safe enough to say' list and things I feel I need to get off my chest:

1.  If someone told me that it could only get worse from this point on, where we live in a world where children's backpacks are now equipped with a bullet-proof shield, and where teachers are going to be allowed to carry ammunition inside the classrooms, then by all means, please end the world now.  Frankly I'm more disturbed by such news than news of possible deadly solar flares or some giant meteor crashing on our planet.

2.  The thought of the end of days brought me to one clear realization.  I am a coward and a big one.  (Actually, I've always known that but more so now than before).  It became apparent to me that part of me actually prefers annihilation over continued survival for the simple reason of having an easy way out.  I think it's an easy way out for me to not work on things I have always been afraid to work on, to deny things  that I feel I cannot do much about.  The thought of a long future ahead actually scares me but knowing how life has a not-so-entertaining sense of humor, I think I might be given a long life ahead.  I guess there's no better time than now to try to start being an optimist and stop taking life oh so seriously.  It's the only way I can see surviving and keeping my sanity.

3.  To all my dearest loved ones from all over the globe, my treasured family members and closest friends, how I wish we could all be together when it's truly time for the world to end.  But it just doesn't work that way, does it?  So for now, while there is time and if the alternate belief is correct that this year's December 21st is really all about a shift in people's consciousness more than anything else, let's put our lives to good use and keep working towards investing in good karma.  Hopefully, in our next lives, we shall all be each other's 'lovers' again, but this time, geographically closer.  Or maybe teleportation would be possible and common by then, who knows?  



Finally, to all who continue to support Catharsis, THANK YOU.  The time you give to read my thoughts and share your comments are priceless to me.  I will do my best to write more and write better should life on Earth continue.  I give you all a BIG WARM HUG!


P.S.
I'd like to give an update to my previous post It's All Santa's Fault.  I am happy to report that the toy finally arrived from Germany two days ago!  Yippee!!

Saturday, December 15, 2012

The Long Path Beyond Our Grief

File:Broken Heart symbol.svgI wasn't expecting to be this affected.  I've heard of multiple shooting tragedies in the past but none has moved me the way this Connecticut school shooting has. Like most parents, I wasn't simply moved.  I was shaken and am broken by it. I still tear up every time I read about it and imagine the trauma and ordeal the teachers and children had to endure.  Admittedly my reaction was compounded by the fact that my son is a kindergartener himself, the same age as most of those who died. Like some of you, I also thought to myself, 'It could've been his school, his classroom.'  Like most of you, I'm asking, 'How safe is my child's school?'  We live in a quiet, suburban community, with a stellar school district.  But Sandy Hook is in a similar community and so the unpredictability factor is further heightened.  

Again, all it took was one disturbed individual, at least one gun (I read he had three of his mother's guns) and the firm determination to harm innocents.  I cannot imagine the sorrow of those parents who lost their precious angels.  The questions they may be asking, all the what ifs, all the questions that will be left unanswered.  And most of all, I cannot imagine the abyss they will find themselves in, as they wish for moments that will never be.  As Pres. Obama pointed out, the birthdays, graduations, weddings and if I may add, the Christmases and all the magical moments and milestones those little children and their families had been robbed of.

The process of grief need not be rushed, but eventually, we all need to move on. Normally, moving on is made a little easier when one is able to make sense of things.  But how do you make sense of a senseless killing spree?  The only path right now that I see is to ask ourselves the question of what this tragedy is teaching us.  How can we make the victims' deaths count for something as a nation, as a society?

Is it highlighting security lapses in our schools?

Is it a reminder to always stay in the present and love our loved ones to the fullest while we can?

Is it a call for more serious dialogues for stricter gun control policies?  (And please don't even think of uttering to me the words "It's people who kill, not guns".  You know that's a crappy excuse.)

Is it a call for a shift from a highly individualistic and alienated way of life, to a more involved, genuinely caring community life?...one where people truly see each other, extend help when needed, offer support to people who are struggling and quietly crying for help; one where civil propriety is not the standard and deemed good enough, but instead, genuine human concern and the awareness that we are all connected?

Adam Lanza, the shooter, is a product of this world, this society.  Let's face it.  WE are all connected to him.  All of us, in some way, contributed to how he became, how he felt, what he thought, whether it was his pain, his sense of alienation, his false beliefs, lack of values, etc.  I don't wish to add to the pain we are all feeling right now, but I do wish to add to the many voices right now calling for everyone to be awakened.

We belong to this society.  We make it.  We create it and have the ability to constantly re-create it.  I choose hope. Let's be clear about our intentions and let those good intentions guide our actions and future decisions.  Don't let the children's deaths go to waste.  Look inside, look around.  See the connections and open your souls to the ripple effects that surround us.  Self and Society, Individual and the World.  We are all part of each other.  Never forget that.






Friday, December 14, 2012

Inescapable


I hate you and love you
Desire and reject you
Feel emptied by you and yet filled 

only 
by you 
Extinguished and yet enlivened soulfully, 
solely 

by you.

Such is the struggle of this heart.  
Needing its most delectable poison 
that makes it beat
This soul sways only to the song 
of your existence.
Dance with me.  
Caress my essence.  
Cradle my peace with your 
impassioned breath.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

It's All Santa's Fault!

I can feel the acid building up in my stomach, my face undeniably mortified as I stared intently at the screen.  My head was full of expletives but at the same time I felt guilty for tainting what should be a happy experience.  So instead of cussing, I just went for a very impassioned, 'Are you kidding me??', trying to resist the temptation of inserting the F-word somewhere in there.

Who would've thought online holiday shopping could get this dramatic?  You see, my son got done with his 'Santa gift list' about a week ago and so today I finally got around to doing my research online.  I went to multiple sites hoping I'd be able to compare prices but horror of horrors, I found that the toy he's dying to have is only available on Amazon.com.  The price is not oppressive at all so I was okay with ordering it.  What choice did I really have, right? But that's not the upsetting part.  What horrified me was that, after placing my order, I found that, since the said toy would be coming from some European country, there was no option for express delivery and that the expected date of arrival for my package will be between December 27 and January 24!!

Normally, I'd be cool about this.  After all, it's just a gift and this would be a good opportunity to teach a 5-year old that patience is a virtue, right?

Not really.  It would've been simple if this freakin' gift were not supposedly coming from the North Pole, assembled by elves, and finally delivered through the chimney by a magical man!

So now there's the obvious question.  What elaborate lie should I tell my son to explain Santa's failure to deliver his gift on time?

Fabrication 1: 
Santa got sick and must be running a little late.

Fabrication 2:
Santa must be having some challenges with his navigation since we moved from IL to TN.  

Fabrication 3: 
Give him a different toy initially and then say that Santa left a note saying that he's still on the 'watch list'.  If he proves to be a good boy even after Christmas, he'll be getting another delivery.

Fabrication 4:
Give him a different toy initially and say that Santa left a note saying he wants him to learn about Patience.  (He'll of course get the gift when Mr. UPS drops it off).

Option 5:
Instead of an elaborate lie, I'd take this as the opportunity to tell him that Santa is not real.  Brutal and quick, but simple and honest.  Is 5 too young?  What do you think? 

You are more than welcome to either vote for your favorite option above, or suggest more creative excuses for this panicked mother.  I'd appreciate it!  Oh and please wish me luck!







Thursday, November 29, 2012

Just Go With The Crow

We live in a small town.  My husband calls it the 'boonies', to which I take offense because technically we only live about 20 miles away from Nashville.  However, it is true that 5 minutes from our house, you're bound to see hills and cows grazing, making you want to burst into song a la Julie Andrews.  I actually like it.  I like that at night, the low light pollution gives me a good view of the star-filled skies.  And in the mornings, I hear the cries of crows above me.

Ah, those crows.  Actually, I'm still a bit ambivalent about them.  When I hear crows, in my mind it's still a toss up between images of Alfred Hitchcock, or that romantic scene from 'How To Make An American Quilt' where a woman was led to the love of her life courtesy of this black bird.  

File:Carrion Crow (Corvus corone) (5594566707).jpg

Most often than not, the romantic image wins.  Of course it does.  After all, this is me we're talking about here.  Now this got me thinking.  (And yes, I do think of this every time I see and hear the crows hovering).  Wouldn't it be great if indeed there was some universal sign that could lead everyone to the love of their life?  It needs to be something unmistakeable, something you can't miss.  Otherwise we'd all just spend our days being paranoid about missing the sign and end up doing nothing but tune out everything else in our lives just to ensure we'd spot what's ours to have.

The funny thing is, most of us do this or have done that at some point in our lives, that paranoia-filled existence of wondering whether 'he/she' is out there; whether or not the one in front of us is the one 'meant to be', the shoe that fits perfectly.  There is no crow to watch out for, no magical spotlight that identifies, and certainly no strong, literal magnetic pull that would draw the two of you inexplicably together no matter how geographically far apart you are.  (And by the way, I think that would be amazing!)

No, all we have are our limited senses and an immeasurable capacity for risk-taking.  The truth is, inasmuch as we love guarantees and would prefer success over failure, we are also beings who prefer to believe in personal responsibility and freedom of choice.  You can't freely choose and still be guaranteed of success every single time.  It just doesn't work that way.  If it were that simple, I suspect that love or falling in love won't be too enticing anymore, won't mean as much as it does, and definitely won't feel as thrilling as it does.  Part of the reason why love has so much value is because it requires so much of us.  It calls for so much faith, and a hell of a lot of courage.  It's not for the faint-hearted, and definitely not for those afraid of failure AND pain.  It's all just part of the package, even if you do end up with the shoe that fits perfectly.

I think we're better off thinking of it this way.  Don't search for THE crow.  Instead, go ahead and follow any crow. After all, regardless of where that crow leads you, love and relationships will always be messy.  A bird's a bird, and love is love.  You just have to really want it badly to survive it because whether you like it or not, at some point, it's bound to crap on you.  It's just the nature of things.  




Photo credit: http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Carrion_Crow_(Corvus_corone)_(5594566707).jpg

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Celebrating Gratitude


File:Thanksgiving 1900.JPGIf you're in the U.S., this week has probably been very busy for you.  With the Thanksgiving holiday just around the corner, most of us are probably shopping, cooking, and /or packing suitcases.  And possibly all that on top of going to school or work.  So given the busy nature of this week, but still feeling the need to pause and take the time to reflect on things we are truly grateful for, I decided to take the lead of my blogger friend Marie of Rock the Kasbah and 'multi-task'.  Just like what she did (and I highly recommend you click on her link above and read her entertaining list!), she wrote things she's thankful for (for Thanksgiving), and combined it with her Christmas wish list.  I thought the 'Thanks/Wish' list was genius!

Anyway, here's my attempt at 'meaningful' multitasking.....

Thanks: We've completely settled into our new home and so far we're loving  the space we have and are grateful that we've had no major issues with it.
Wish: We could completely furnish and decorate each room as if I possessed a magical Sarah Richardson wand.

Thanks:  Our family remains relatively healthy and no one has suffered from any major health problems.
Wish:  I would stop being so crazy paranoid and stressed out with every sniffle, cough and slightly elevated temperature my son gets.  Does anyone have any miracle solution to this insanity????  

Thanks:  I finally found a great hair stylist here in TN, close to my home, knows how to listen to what I want, but talented enough to implement what she thinks would best suit me.
Wish:  I could say the same about finding a family physician and OB/GYN.

Thanks:  Two new babies were born in the Page and Manuel families this year and both babies are healthy and beautiful!  
Wish:  People would stop asking me when I would have my next one and how fabulous it would be if I had a girl!  

Thanks:  Writing still inspires, stimulates and invigorates me.  I am thankful for that and happy that somehow, I still find material to write about no matter how 'boring' my life is.  I guess in a way, I should also be thankful for that.  God knows I can only take so much excitement.
Wish:  That in the next couple of years (assuming the Mayans are wrong), I would find more venues for my writing and be able to explore new territory.  (It's so 'new' to me that I can't even specify on here what exactly I mean by that!)


Finally, I would like to leave all of you with the ultimate wish...That no matter where you are in life, that you'll always find far greater things to be thankful for, than your wishes.

Happy Thanksgiving!



Wednesday, November 14, 2012

And Love Saves the Day!

Today marks one of the most special days in my parents' lives...one day when they felt remarkably joyous!...Today is my birthday! 

There is absolutely one thing that I've learned to look forward to when my birthday arrives, and that's the birthday blues.  Yes, you heard me.  I look forward to my annual self-flagellation session.

Well, 'self-flagellation' might not entirely be accurate.  I guess I just call it 'birthday blues' but really what I mean is some serious alone time for self reflection.  I can almost hear some of you saying, "But don't you already do that every day???" The answer is sure, yes to some extent.  But a birthday is serious business for me and therefore I feel more pressure to make the contemplation more productive.  And while most people would prefer to celebrate with friends, I actually prefer spending it by my lonesome, and this has gotten even more pronounced as I got older. Having my birthday without getting at least two hours of alone time is something I deem tragic.  I must admit, I crave some solitude, some time to be left alone with my thoughts, and most especially my questions.  It's just who I am.


File:Birthday candles.jpg

Last night I went to my bff's house to celebrate her eldest son's birthday. Birthday boy is also my godson.  Then BFF shared that birthday boy said something profound to her.  We're not sure if it was a product of watching too much Aladdin or Mulan or some other Disney movie but he said, "When I marry, I want someone who sees me.  I want to be seen, Mama."  

This got me thinking.  Aren't birthdays about this as well?...being 'seen'.  And to be seen is not merely about getting attention and being made to feel special for a day, although those are great perks to enjoy.  

To be really seen is to be understood, to have a soulful connection with another, to be heard and felt in spite of silence.  To be seen is to be accepted and loved, truly purely loved, welcomed despite your flaws, idiosyncrasies, wounds and baggage.  It's to be treasured both for your gifts, and equally for your failures or never-to-be-realized potential.  

I had more than a hundred birthday messages online, from close friends, not-so-close friends, new friends, old friends, mentors, former students, and family. To all of you who took the time to send me your messages on this special day, I am sincerely grateful!  You have made me smile.

But what truly fills me on this special day is the opportunity to reconnect with old friends...friends (and select family members) who have known me for decades; souls who celebrate me even when I feel like there is nothing about me to celebrate.  I feel most humbled and honored by friends telling me that they value me for being trustworthy, wise and that my written words on here have made a difference somehow.  These are birthday messages that truly remind me what birthdays are about -- a celebration of the perfection in one's imperfect existence.  At the end of the day, a birthday celebrant knows that the day is not quite complete unless she hears from those who truly see her, mold her, feel her.  The day is never really quite full to the brim unless she hears from Love......well, that and a slice of chocolate cake!


Happy Birthday to Me!  






Wednesday, November 7, 2012

I Object!!

Last night was a long night, made even longer if like me you were holding your breath for hours.  Anyway, today is a new day and forward is the only way to go for all of us!

I want to say my morning was perfect but again I found something strange in my inbox.  A few weeks ago, I said that my day was ruined by a 'strange' coupon sent via email.  Well today, I got yet another surprise from one of my email accounts.  When I checked my inbox, I found this ---



I'm offended.  Troubled, to say the least.  And admittedly it's not because of the fact that I'm married and never signed up for any such dating sites.  It's the fact that I'm getting emails from a site called 'SeniorPeopleMeet.com'.


SENIOR PEOPLE??.....REALLY???!!!!!

Next week is going to be my birthday and though I am undeniably aging, I refuse to label myself 'senior' at this point. What's more, if indeed I were single and looking for dates, I resent the fact that my 'date-able pool' now belongs in the 'Senior' category.

I don't mean to disrespect seniors and / or the elderly population in general.  I have great respect for them, trust me. It's just that, though I've repeatedly revealed that I tend to be attracted to men 'more mature' than my 'very late 30's cohort', I'm not quite at that point yet of saying that these are the ones bearing senior citizen cards.  Maybe they do, maybe they don't.  But I'm not admitting it.

I have a lot of gray hairs.  I have been diagnosed with osteoarthritis.  My back and different joints hurt.  I'm seeing more lines and age spots on my face which translate to putting more effort at fixing myself when I need to step out of my house.  More time on the treadmill is also now required if I just want to maintain my weight, let alone try to lose a few pounds.  So yes, I know I'm really getting older.  But please....can we delay the 'senior' label for, maybe a couple more decades???

What labels do you find yourself resisting or protesting these days?....whether justified or not...




Friday, October 26, 2012

When Mary Poppins Lost Her Head

If you live in the US, chances are you've seen this Liberty Mutual 'Humans' television advertisement.  It's hilarious, yes.  But since the very first time I saw it, it has always made me feel uncomfortable and I think more than anything, it's because I've always felt that one of those scenarios could easily happen to anyone...including me.  



Well, it has happened and I might as well come clean to everyone.  It's not as ridiculous as the cases shown in the commercial, but I assure you, it's nonetheless careless to say the least. 

First of all, it's been three weeks since 'the incident' and I'll explain later why it took me this long to confess.  Right now, I'll get on with it and just say what 'human' thing I managed to cross out of my 'for-once-be-stupid-bucket list'....

I drove my car one morning with my umbrella sitting on top of the trunk.  Yes, it was folded, which is why I didn't notice it, and just so you know, it's one of those big, long umbrellas with the traditional looking J-shaped handle. Anyway, I was rushing one morning to drive my son to school since he had missed the bus.  It was crazy, we were rushing, I was making sure he had his things with him, that he was buckled safely, blah, blah, blah, that it totally slipped my mind that I had left that d*mn umbrella to dry on top of the trunk the previous afternoon.  What drives me crazy is the fact that the moment I placed it on top of the car, I even thought to myself, "God forbid I forget about this and just drive out".  I should've followed my hunch that that's exactly what would happen, but no.....I had to follow it up with a lie...."Nah...I'm too smart for that to happen!"

So naturally, I lost said beloved umbrella.  I should've known that thud I heard when I drove over a bump somewhere not too far from our house was something other than just the junk inside my car.  I drove my son to school, went to the grocery, and then drove back, but it was not until that same afternoon, seven hours later to be exact, when I fully realized what stupidity I had done.

I wish I could end this story here, but believe it or not there's more.  The day after I lost my umbrella, I found this message on the Facebook page of our subdivision.  Let's just call the concerned resident "Claire" :

Claire:  "I found an umbrella in the middle of (street 1) and (street 2) this morning. It is plaid and has the name Manuel on it. Let me know if u know who it belongs to:) "


Suffice it to say that I was horrified.  I stared at the message for a good 10 minutes and debated whether or not I should respond.  I didn't want to respond and own up to my stupidity by having to explain how the hell my umbrella landed in the middle of the road like that.  However I wondered just how many other 'Manuels' there are in the subdivision, and if I could really get away with ignoring and denying it.  The answers are ZERO and NO (and yes I'm sure because this is the South and 'diversity' is not really a buzz word down here....Let's just leave it at that...).  So I felt I had no other choice but to respond with as much dignity and poise as I could.

Me:  "That would be me, Claire. Thanks for picking it up, long story. Would you let me know how I can claim it? 

That same evening, I received a response from Claire saying that I should send her a private message via Facebook since she tried it and for some reason couldn't send me one.  So I sent her a message so she could respond back and give me her address or instructions as to how I could meet up with her to claim my umbrella.

It was October 4 when I first sent Claire a private message.  I did not get a response.

Then I thought maybe life got in the way or whatever, and that I certainly shouldn't expect anyone to be as active as I am online.  So on October 16th, I sent yet another private message PLUS a posting on the FB wall in case the private message still didn't go through.  It's now October 26 and I still haven't gotten any response whatsoever.

To add (further) insult to injury, I see that Claire's posting has now been viewed by 92 residents.  Can you imagine that?!  I've sufficiently entertained  and possibly piqued the curiosity and imagination of close to a hundred people. Trust me.  There are days when I just want to wear a placard around my neck stating, 'Yes I'm the idiot who lost her umbrella, and yes I love that it's plaid!  Now can I have it back please???'

If you're wondering what I plan on doing next, the answer is 'Nothing'.  I think I've done enough, said enough, admitted enough.  If Claire or any of the other residents happen to come across this blog post, then congratulations. Now you have the whole picture and should consider this a privilege.  I really don't know what happened to Claire and to my umbrella, and I'm doing my best not to have any ill thoughts about it.  If for some reason she changed her mind and opted to keep it, I really can't blame her.  It's a good thing to have and I know I have awesome taste.  If they don't see this blog post (and I honestly hope they don't) they will all just die wondering how that adorable umbrella magically appeared in the middle of the street.  Think all you want, I really don't care.  I know I'm still pretty awesome.  















Thursday, October 18, 2012

Links In A Chain


I was particularly moved by this story today and felt absolutely compelled to share it.  This is a story I read on Yahoo regarding a woman who safely gave birth to her premature baby, thanks to the help of a homeless man.

There's so much going on in the world today, things that make it so easy to feel lost and just focus on what burdens us.  Often times we find ourselves enveloped in hopelessness and an overwhelming sense that we are on our own and that the only way to survive in this world is to look after our own interests.  

However sometimes, we see rays of light, glimpses into what truly makes us sacredly human.  We bear witness to simple good-ness that, in its simplicity, manages to fill our hearts to the brim with a deep sense of hope...Hope that good still exists; that simple acts of kindness can truly put things in perspective and make us see with clarity that in the end, we are all profoundly connected.


http://news.yahoo.com/blogs/sideshow/homeless-man-helps-save-life-baby-born-truck-184556201.html News9.com - Oklahoma City, OK - News, Weather, Video and Sports |
http://news.yahoo.com/blogs/sideshow/homeless-man-helps-save-life-baby-born-truck-184556201.html

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

I Never Knew I Was Bruce Banner



"Conflict breeds creativity".  Thank Dr. Gregory House for that line (or actually the writer of the show).  If it hasn't been apparent to you yet, yes I was and still am a fan of the show.  As a matter of fact, if you must know, I like waking up to it.  No, I don't have my television turned on upon waking up.  I do, however, find it cool that I wake up feeling like a genius when I use my House ringtone as my morning alarm.  It's either that or I wake up as a super hero using my Batman/Dark Knight ringtone.  Either way, I wake up like I'm about to kick some ass.  Really.  Go check out the links and see how they make you feel.  (Yes I'm a dork...a very cool dork, admit it!)

I like getting fired up like that, feeling as if I'm an angry genius doctor, out to solve the most amazing puzzles of the day, or an angry millionaire-turned-ninja with deep-seated issues taking it out on crooks and fighting for justice.  The truth is, anger can be a good thing, an inner conflict that could stir interesting emotions which could then lead you to the desire to paint those emotions using colorful words, images, or whatever suits your fancy.  The key here is to make sure that you can control your anger instead of the other way around.  Let's face it.  Anger or any other emotion never just magically evaporates.  So while it's there, why not make friends with it while maintaining control.  And how do you know you are in control?  To me, the gauge is in seeing that you are making some sort of progress.  Think of it as realizing the difference between a rant and a reflection.  

A rant focuses on expression, a spewing of whatever is eating you up from the inside.  A reflection entails an effort to go back in, dig deeper, ask questions and search for answers.  A highly-creative rant can turn into a really interesting read.  However, if all you do is rant day in and day out, essay after essay, then face it.  It gets old and tiring.  You're just stuck, plain and simple.  If you've ever known someone who, every time you meet, speaks only of the same thing, the same hurt, the same nastiness ad nauseam, you know how off-putting it is.  Without introspection and doing the dirty work of rummaging through the muck in order to find pockets of wisdom, you're bound to just keep replaying the emotion like a tired and broken record.  The initial creativity sparked is bound to stagnate and will cease to be enticing.  


Oh what I wouldn't give to have endless creativity!...(I didn't just dare the Universe to send me an endless supply of drama with that pronouncement, did I ?)  The truth is, I can handle some conflict, bear a certain level of callousness with my heart.  Hey, it's all part of life and I can certainly use some feistiness to push me on the treadmill and then have my fingers type away and hit 'publish' on here.  After all, anger, disagreements, pain and heartbreak always offer great material for any creative output.  Not only that, conflict and competition are also proven effective driving forces behind the desire to do better and prove one's capabilities (Did you see how exciting the Presidential Debate was last night?). But when the inner turmoil gets to toxic levels and just makes me want to bash the other person on the head, I find that only one thing works for me, at least temporarily, or until I don't feel the urge to strike back anymore.  I walk away, either figuratively or literally.  I ignore and put it aside.  I try to forget about it and distract myself with things that could either calm me down or make me happy (e.g. an entertaining show, enjoying great food, being with positive people, etc).  You might have other ways of coping but for me, this is what works.  This is what keeps me from biting someone's head off...literally at times.



Other than creative pursuits, how do you deal with conflict, whether internal or inter-personal?









Thursday, October 11, 2012

When Coupons Ruin Your Day

I feel like an entire virus colony decided to invade my body.  Again.  Since last night I'd been feeling as if my head would explode due to congestion among other things and frankly, the only thing that makes me think this is not the flu is because I don't have a temperature.  And don't worry, I've had my flu vaccine for this year.

No amount of phlegm or mucus, however, can keep me away from going online.  And so I did, as soon as I woke up.  I checked my email and what did I find and more importantly, what did it make me say??

"What...the.......*bleep* !!!"




I know Groupon knows I live close to Nashville.  But I wish there was a way of letting them know that just because I live in a red state doesn't mean I adore guns (or that I'm a Republican for that matter).  It's bad enough that when I drive out, I see numerous billboards advertising gun shows like it's the coolest and most worthwhile thing on earth, making me scream out like an insane person, "Oh right!  Like we still don't have enough crazy people in this country open-firing like it's just a hiccup!"  Why should I have to get 'assaulted' this way via email?  (Yes I know it isn't personal.  But I'm sick and cranky and I have a very low threshold for stupidity during these times).

So to Groupon, no thanks.  I am not a fan of guns and if you must know, I'm a Democrat who firmly believes in stricter gun control mechanisms.  How about you send me coupons for free lifetime housekeeping services next time?


Wednesday, October 3, 2012

My Kardashianification


File:Televison Hungarian ORION 1957.jpg
***
Recently, one of my guilty pleasures has been to watch Keeping Up With the Kardashians (KUWTK).  I'm definitely not proud of this and I guarantee you that when my husband reads this and asks me about this, I would still deny it and claim that someone else wrote this blog post.

So why do I watch it?  Well, it satisfies my voyeuristic tendencies, as is probably the case with any of you who watch any reality show on television.  It's mindless, which is probably occasionally healthy for an over-thinker like myself.  And it also nurtures my sense of gratitude.

Say what???

Alright hear me out.  During one of my KUWTK sessions, I asked myself what it would be like if I starred in my own reality show.  Obviously, there are key elements to ensure success and I think these include the following:  (1) ample eye candy, which just means you need to have things that are nice to look at...nice looking people, nice house, nice car, nice fashion sense, etc; (2) ample drama (sufficient intrigue, some tears here and there, a lot of screaming and cussing); (3) an active social life (business deals, work projects, parties, travel, hanging out with friends in general); and last but certainly not the least because I think THIS is key---(4) some catchy techno / club music to introduce each and every scene as if you're a rap mogul about to kick some ass.

Now if I had my own show, what would it really be like?  

Scene 1: (techno music in the background)  Joy gets out of bed, does her morning routine and ends up in the kitchen to make breakfast...Sorry but there's no sexy, silky, flowing robe in this scene as she walks down the stairs....just plain pajama pants and a t-shirt.

Scene 2:  Brace yourselves for the first hint of 'drama'....Joy tries to wake her son up and screams as dramatically as possible, "You're going to be late for school if you don't get your sorry a** out of bed right this moment, young man!"  (Okay, I'm exaggerating, but I'm trying to sell this show!)

Scene 3:  More drama....Mother and son run to the bus stop.  Joy, with her 'cutesy' voice trying to imitate the Kardashian sisters, says 'I love you' to Noah as she kisses him goodbye.  She sticks around for a few minutes at the bus stop for some chit-chat with the neighborhood Moms.  (more techno, suspense music in the background just before our commercial break....cliffhanger successs!)

Scene 4:  (techno music of course)  Joy walks into a Kroger store with her fab outfit and perfectly made-up face.  She struts down the aisles, fills up her cart, lines up and then....Bam!...(dramatic music)...She cusses, "WTF! I forgot my f*ck*ng coupons!!"  (yet another exaggeration of course)

Scene 5:  Joy is home on the computer.

Scene 6:  Joy is in the laundry room.

Scene 7:  Joy is vacuuming all over the house.

Scene 8:  Joy is on the computer.  Again.


Alright you get my drift.  

I can argue that most of my days are really not this boring and that you should know about all the drama in my life.  But the truth is, my life is really not going to sell and no amount of techno music can make it appear colorful in a 'Hollywood' sense.  There's really not much screaming, crying, angry phone calls, late nights, cursing, racy outfits and definitely not enough cleavage to make my life exciting to watch.

And I'm grateful for that.  I'm grateful for this normality that I can endure.  I'm grateful for this quiet and simple life.  Doesn't this make you feel happy that your life is not worthy of being a top-rating reality show?  And if, for some reason, you think your life is reaching reality t.v. status because of all the drama you're experiencing, let me try to offer some consolation...You're not the one dating first-class jack*ss, Kanye West.  I rest my case.


*** Photo credit:  By Takkk (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0) or GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html)], via Wikimedia Commons


Wednesday, September 26, 2012

It's Nothing Personal

I have always hated hearing that.  Someone says something that you don't want to hear, something nasty, or not so nasty but definitely bruises your ego, and then follows it up with a jab of, "It's nothing personal".  Now that's a sure fire way of making me want to punch you in the face.

But the more I think about this, the more I'm realizing that it does make sense. From a more mature and spiritual perspective, I can now appreciate the point that when things are said or done to us, rarely is it really about us, but more about the other person.

 
The epiphany hit me when I thought of how long I have been waiting for someone to apologize to me for a transgression made.  Then it finally occurred to me that it's never going to happen and it's not simply because the other person is arrogant or full of pride (although perhaps that may be a small part of the problem).  I realized that the answer is simply because this person does not have it in her and therefore cannot give it.  I know so much about this person and everything she has gone through...from a difficult childhood to being in abusive relationships and countless other heartbreaking (soul-breaking) life events.  In the grand scheme of things, it is highly possible that she does not even see the hurt she has caused me given that it doesn't even 'register' in her 'transgression scale'.  The other thing worth considering is that I don't think she has ever gotten any apologies from those who have truly hurt her in her past.  So, how can she offer me something she doesn't possess, doesn't know how to do or deliver?  It simply does not make sense for me to expect something from someone when what I want is something the other person does not possess.  

How many times have we expected something from someone, not knowing that they do not have it to give?  

It isn't fair to expect someone to be affectionate towards us, when that person never experienced enough affection to truly learn it.

It isn't fair to expect honesty from someone who has consistently been lied to, cheated, or betrayed.

It isn't fair to expect compassion, empathy, or unconditional love from someone who was never made to feel valued for who he is, and instead felt constantly used and appreciated only for what he possessed and could give.  

This is not about making excuses for someone's behavior or faults.  Rather I am proposing that WE be more responsible for OUR own decisions and actions.  The truth is, we may never know everything about another person's life to fully explain their choices and make sense of their thinking.  And even if you were able to do all that, isn't it that the final question is still what YOU will do with that information?  It's our business to decide how to respond to situations.  It's not our business to control how others decide to relate to us.

Regardless of how others are towards us and whatever justifications there may be, the fact remains that we really only have control over ourselves.  If you are unhappy with how you are being treated, the only real question is if you will accept it and put up with it, or if you will reject it and walk away.  Your choice inevitably defines who you are, hence this is where it becomes completely about YOU. In this respect, it completely becomes truly personal.



*Photo credit: By Bryan Helfrich, Alias52 [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Self-doubt In the Spotlight

I have a recurring dream.  And it's annoying and stress-inducing, to say the least.  Every now and then it would come and it has haunted me for years, even decades now.

The dream always goes this way:  I'm still in school, whether it's high school or college, and there's an exam...a MATH exam.  And it's always my algebra teacher in high school, even when the setting involves my college years.  It's either I didn't know there was a test and I go to class unprepared, or, I knew of the scheduled test but thought I had more time to prepare only to be completely proven wrong and made to feel like an overconfident idiot.  Either way, I'm always unprepared and panicked.  Then somehow, somewhere in the dream, I get this thought and say to myself, "Maybe it will be like that last time when she didn't include that part I didn't study for.  Maybe I'll be lucky again!"  And then of course, soon I realize that I'm not getting my wish this time around, and that no, I wouldn't be able to 'fake my way through this one'.  (Yes, that line, that thought, crosses my mind in my dream).


My husband makes fun of me for having these dreams.  He always wonders why I keep having them considering that it's so far from reality.  He argues that I'm too organized in real life to be unaware of scheduled tests or be unprepared like that.  It perplexes him that someone who always has a schedule and sticks to it, and even ends up always finishing ahead of deadlines, can have such crazy dreams.  I just tell him it's my fear of, and aversion to Math.  I know that's partially true but I'm certain it's deeper than that.

It's always Math because it's something I'm not naturally good at.  For the anxiety to make sense, it would have to be something that I feel I need to realistically prepare for.  And of course school has to be involved because, not only did I spend almost half of my life in that institution, but it also represents something where we were all objectively assessed for our capabilities.  It's in our schools where we learned to compete, cooperate, and further made to realize that you need actual skills to make it in the 'real' world.  It's in our schools where we felt we had to prove ourselves before any real recognition could be given.

In my dream, other than the overwhelming feeling of being unprepared, the other thought that overpowers me is the thought of 'being found out'; the feeling that my math teacher was out 'to get me', 'to expose me' for the fake that I am...that I'm really not smart and don't really deserve recognition in any way, shape or form.

Perhaps I'm doubting myself, questioning if I really deserved the accolades I got when I was in elementary and high school.  Perhaps I feel like I'm not as sharp as the others who also got some form of recognition.  Perhaps this brings me back to the days I questioned myself as an academic, comparing my nature to the other professors I worked with when I was in the university.  Most of all, I suspect it has something to do with my feeling of inadequacy given that I have been a homemaker for the past six years.  

I am not revealing all this to get sympathy, or some affirmation of the value of what I do for my family now.  I also want to make it clear that I have no regrets and will not trade my position now for any high-paying job outside the home.  This is what I want and feel blessed that I am able to do this.  However, the fear of the unknown is getting stronger and stronger.  Self-doubt is gripping me even more tightly as I try to confront the question of 'What's next?'  I might as well throw 'What are my real skills?', and 'What do I really want?' into the mix.

I know that the only way to confront darkness is to shed some light on it.  I am trying to slowly do that and I know I have to be gentle with myself in this long process.  I am hoping, however, that somewhere along the way, I will be aided by the wisdom of those who have gone through a similar journey.  Long and challenging treks, after all, are never fun when you're alone and without a map.


Do you find yourself asking the same questions?  How do you proceed from self-doubt?  Are there concrete steps you find effective?










Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Swallowing Our Pride

*
Mornings are never fun for parents with school-aged kids.  If you're an average parent like myself (translate:  no nanny, house help or any of that luxury), you start out your days feeling like you're on the brink of a heart attack.  You don't really want to get out of bed but you know there's already a ton of things waiting to be done.  And though you wish your days start just as they do in commercials (i.e. Mom wearing a silky robe, walking calmly towards her gourmet kitchen, coffee ready and she sips with such grace, closes her eyes as if to be thankful for all that life has to offer), the reality is that you're in your shabby pajamas, hair all standing up, and you are frantic trying to figure out what to serve for breakfast and what your child will bring to school for lunch.  The icing on the cake is the joyful experience of dragging your child out of bed...
            each. 
                    and. 
                          every. 
                                   God-forsaken.  
                                                        day.

Normally, what works in our household is the reminder that there's a school bus.  90% of the time, the reminder that the school bus never waits for anyone makes the little guy jump out of bed and triggers instant enthusiasm.  Problem solved!  (Let's hope the magic lingers for at least eight more years).

Once we make it to the dining table, the next major struggle is chowing down breakfast at a reasonable amount of time.  Yesterday though, Noah asked me a question that led me to rationalize our daily delay and struggles with breakfast.

He asked, "Mommy, how come 'J' always makes it to the bus stop early and ahead of us?"  Almost instinctively I replied, "Because he's American and they don't have a Filipino breakfast".

To those who are not familiar with such a type of breakfast, let me sum it up for you in one word:  Rice.  We can eat this (and actually sometimes do) during every meal of the day.  A 'Filipino breakfast' would traditionally be rice and something fried....fried fish, fried pork, fried hotdog, fried spam, fried (Filipino) sausage or 'longganisa', fried beef (tapa), fried chicken, fried bacon, and of course fried egg.  Actually the fried egg comes with all of the above, and even if we're having bread for breakfast, fried egg would be expected as well.  However, Noah's plate these days never contains any egg as he suddenly decided, upon turning 3 1/2, that he hates egg. I'm still in the process of curing this malady.


**
It takes time and effort to prepare this sort of meal especially when you still feel like a zombie and would really much rather stay in your lovely cocoon in bed.  The 'delay' also comes from the fact that a highly Americanized 5-year old is not the easiest to feed rice to in the morning.  I don't force-feed him and constantly remind myself that the size of his stomach is about the size of his fist. However, it's a fact that chewing rice in tandem with some type of protein takes more time and effort than shoving a spoonful of cereal in your mouth.  

So why do I still choose to do this despite its challenges?

The answer is clear.  It's because I feel I need to.  I need to because I grew up eating the same things.  I need to because I was taught that breakfast is the most important meal of the day and that you need something hearty to carry you through a long morning in school.  Most importantly, I need to because I want my son to retain as much of his cultural identity as possible.  

Everyday, it's a struggle for a migrant parent like myself to assert my Filipino-ness in an environment that is hardly diverse.  We do not have a Filipino channel at home so I really don't get to expose my child to Filipino forms of mass media.  On a more basic level, I feel guilty for not teaching him enough of our native language (Filipino / Tagalog).  I can speak it, and my husband can speak a bit of it, and yet we still speak English at home.  Traditionally, majority of Filipinos are Roman Catholics and though we are all baptized as such, I'll be honest and admit that we hardly practice and to make matters worse, I feel extremely conflicted about my religion.

So what else of my heritage is left that I can easily and joyfully pass on to my child?  Food.  It's a non-negotiable for me.  Filipinos love to eat and gatherings always involve food and lots of it.  It's how we remember traditions, our families and friends, special memories of our childhood and different rites of passage.  Preserving and passing on the flavors of home to my son, no matter how challenging, are sacrifices I'm willing to make on a daily basis.  Maybe someday soon, my son will ask for that fried egg, or even egg with 'sibuyas' (onions).  And maybe he'll soon eat that 'tapa' or 'longganisa' with slices of fresh tomatoes.  Better yet, perhaps he'll crave 'tinapang bangus' (smoked milkfish).  For now, even though Noah prefers to have hotdog, bacon or spam for breakfast, it's still music to my ears and brings pride to my heart when I hear him say, "Mommy, I want it with rice".




* Image courtesy of Michal Marcol / FreeDigitalPhotos.net: http://www.freedigitalphotos.net/images/Eating_Drinking_g369-Girl_Stretching_In_Morning_p61014.html
**Image courtesy of http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Tapsilog.jpg